The Benefits of Writing Workshops

Lots of people are nervous about writing workshops. They don’t really want to put themselves out there, which becomes more or less a requirement at certain points during writing workshops, depending on the format. A lot of people are worried about getting their writing criticized or evaluated in a large group. However, if you want to be a better writer, there are certain things that you have to do as a matter of course. In many cases, you’re going to need to show your writing to someone else at some point or another in order to get feedback. A writing workshop is often a good environment for this part of the process.

At a writing workshop, everyone is there to try to improve his or her writing skills. You all have a common purpose. Most of you have some experience with writing already, and you’re all probably readers. These days, you have all probably reviewed something online before as well. As such, you all have a lot of experience that you can bring to the table when it’s time to get a sense of other people’s work. Benefiting from other people’s experience will often automatically make you a better writer.

Writing workshops also just help in some cases because they give people more practice. It has been said that writers have to write a million words of pure garbage before they can create something that’s good. People often have a hard time motivating themselves to move forward in that regard. A writing workshop can give you the motivation that you need in a structured environment that will truly allow you to advance. Your other writers can encourage you literally or figuratively.

A writing workshop can also help you network with other writers, which is one of the practical considerations of a writing workshop that a lot of people don’t discuss. Getting anywhere in writing is very difficult. Writing workshops that will really allow people to meet other writers can make all the difference in the world for the people who are trying to move forward as writers at all. Even if you don’t plan to write professionally and you just want to see if it is possible for other people to read your stuff and like it, a writing workshop can help. Just getting someone to talk about your book on Twitter can help, and you will meet writers who might do that for you at the writing workshops.

Writing workshops are not without their flaws. In some cases, people are too polite or disinterested to offer any real feedback, which will not help you grow as a writer enough. In other cases, people will go in the opposite direction and they will be too critical to actually offer people any real advice or assistance. Having all of your stuff praised all the time is just as unhelpful as having all of your stuff criticized all the time. There are going to be people in all writing workshops who will play the part of the kindergarten teacher or the caustic critic, and part of the skill of getting something out of writing workshops involves ignoring them.

However, you will encounter both groups when you are actually a writer in the first place. It is genuinely useful to try to learn to tune them out when you are still at the writing workshop stage in a lot of cases. You need to start learning which sorts of criticisms to understand and which to tune out, since you are going to get constructive and reductive criticism when you are actually a writer in any capacity at any point in your life. Writing workshops can help make you a better writer in terms of the craft and in terms of the persona that it requires.


Documenting Family Stories

One of the most valuable ways that people can remember their families involves documenting family stories. When you think about yourself and how you want to be remembered, you might specifically think about your accomplishments and the things that you’ve done with your life. Of course, every single one of these accomplishments has a story behind it, and that’s what a lot of people will remember when they talk about it. They might be benefiting from the results, but they will still care about the story.

You might also want people to remember specific anecdotes and stories about your life. There are lots of different key moments that you might think of when you try to conceptualize yourself and your identity. All of these different moments have been technically lost to time, but you remember them. In all likelihood, you would prefer if other people remembered them as well. In all likelihood, other members of your family and other people’s families feel the same way.

Identity is complicated, but people are at least partly the sum of their memories. We can’t preserve those memories in another mind. However, we can at least share those memories with other people and keep them going that way. This can make all the difference in the world in many cases.

There are lots of ways to document family stories. For one thing, you can just write them down in the form of a journal, interviewing members of your family as if you were a professional journalist. Some people are more visually inclined, and they might want to make collages, scrapbooks, or video blogs about their family members in order to really keep track of them. Of course, some people might want to do all of the above, knowing that keeping a lot of different records is often the best strategy if you want to make sure that some piece of the family history will truly stand the test of time.

Historians tend to have a fondness for the historical figures that kept detailed records of their lives and the lives of others. These people create documents and works of art that can quickly become the sort of primary sources that a lot of other people will use when they’re trying to study the entire time period.

Your family stories might not become important to historians. However, they will certainly be important to anyone who remembers your family or who cares about your family. Your family also certainly left its mark on the world in its own way. Trying to keep that going is worthwhile. The more you write and the more you create, the better.